International Day of Women & Girls in Science, highlighting Guyana’s very own, Mrs. Nikita Bagot
Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Written by: Afeefa Richardson
“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us” is the theme for the 2022 observance of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This year’s observance highlights the interconnectivity of two global challenges: water access and women inclusion.
For women and girls, water access is personal because of their reliance on the resource. Without safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities at home and in places of work and education, it is disproportionately harder for women and girls to lead safe, productive, and healthy lives. Globally, women and girls are usually faced with the responsibility of collecting water for the household, taking time away from education or other occupations. They are also faced with increased health risks without access to proper sanitation facilities, especially during periods of menstruation and pregnancy. These challenges are exacerbated during disasters. With a changing climate and projected increase in the intensity of disasters and droughts, innovations and solutions to improve access to clean and safe water are crucial.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science recognizes the role of women and girls, not only as beneficiaries, but also as agents of change. Women and girls belong in science and should be included in all decisions. On this special day, we highlight the incredible work of a young Guyanese woman dedicated to making a difference in the water sector.
Meet Mrs. Nikita Bagot, a Guyanese Hydro-chemist working at the Hydromet Office. Nikita is part of a team of five women who help to develop and implement systems to monitor the quality of Guyana’s ground and surface water. She provides advice on addressing issues relating to the monitoring of potential contamination sources to ensure the safety of water for both human and ecosystem health.
Growing up in Rose Hall, Corentyne, Nikita was determined to excel and decided to pursue the sciences. Her interest, specifically in water, was later sparked by her concern for her health. Having moved away from home to pursue her studies at the University of Guyana, Nikita was concerned about the quality of the water coming from her tap and that sold by refill stations. This led Nikita to develop her final year research project around the testing of water quality to ensure persons have access to safe drinking water - an endeavour which she continues to support through her current role by ensuring water regulators have the information they need.
However, being a young woman in science was not without its challenges. She notes:
“As a young girl fresh out of secondary school, I faced some degree of social disapproval wanting to have a job that involved field work and being in remote areas. I was told that such a life is not for a woman and that it would make me an undesirable spouse. I was asked to think about what people might say about me with a job like that. I have to say it was difficult to not allow myself to be steered by that way of thinking. Fortunately, my parents were supportive and that encouraged me”
Nikita has since attained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Studies and is passionate about water resource management, geospatial mapping,
and experiential learning through
She advises other young women and girls interested in pursuing a career in science and water to pay attention to what is happening to the water resources in their country and around the world and to keep updated on how the systems for water management and monitoring are evolving with improvements in science and technology.
“It is okay to feel afraid to challenge yourself but do not allow that fear to stop you from taking hold of every learning opportunity that will build your understanding of the complexity and uniqueness of water,” she urges.
Water is life, an undeniable fact. Within our homes, we need water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and other hygiene and sanitation purposes. This has doubled since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have become more conscious of the importance of water. The lack of clean and safe water directly affects our health and well-being. Nikita’s initial concern for the quality of water she receives is a concern of every Guyanese. Her work and passion are commendable.
Women and girls bring unique perspectives to their various fields. As a community, let’s continue to encourage, support, and create space for our women and girls in science.